Michelle Quintyn (‘81) is the President and CEO of Goodwill Industries, Ontario Great Lakes, and one of eight leaders recognized in 2017 as a YMCA woman of excellence in the category of Business and Professionals. These titles only begin to describe Michelle’s many accomplishments, as her passion for building and supporting inclusive communities began long before Michelle became an OT.
Michelle grew up in Southwestern Ontario, near London. While in high school, she worked in a nursing home where she first encountered marginalized populations. Michelle went on to study nursing at Ryerson University and worked in this role for a few years at Wellesley Hospital. As a nurse, Michelle was exposed to variety of practice settings and professionals, including OT. Over time, Michelle found herself increasingly fascinated by interior design and creating inclusive spaces and communities for people living with disability. Michelle soon returned to Toronto to pursue a degree in OT, with the intention of working in an administrative role after graduation.
Upon graduating, Michelle first worked as a clinical OT for a short time. In this role, she had a client with Parkinson’s and realized that there were no available support groups for this population. In collaboration with her client, Michelle became the founder of the Parkinson Society of Southwestern Ontario. Early in its origin, Michelle began to experience frustration that the organization was not earning anywhere near its capacity. In response to this realization, Michelle took it upon herself to learn about fundraising and development for healthcare to help the Society reach its full potential.
Although Michelle continued to volunteer with the Society for 9 years, she found herself moving on to a new role in 1986 as the founding Executive Director, University Hospital Foundation and Vice-President of Development of the Hospital in London, Ontario. In this role, Michelle was able to integrate her knowledge of OT, nursing, healthcare, and fundraising to help facilitate health and community development projects. More than a decade later, Michelle moved on to spearhead the re-development of London’s Covent Garden Market. Michelle’s OT background was particularly beneficial as she worked with 52 small businesses on various vocational pursuits. After the successful rebuild and launch of the market, Michelle found herself in her current role at Goodwill Industries.
Michelle described herself as ‘coming home to her OT career’ upon transitioning to Goodwill. This organization is one of the world’s largest social enterprises and the largest employer of individuals living with disabilities, per capita, in Ontario. Michelle’s background makes her the perfect fit to be President and CEO of Goodwill Industries. Goodwill emphasizes vocational employment for disadvantaged populations facing barriers to employment, including physical, mental, social challenges. Goodwill also supports functional planning of communities to enable equality and social inclusion. Michelle is able to use her OT background to consider a broad perspective of clients and better understand the barriers they face within their social contexts. Not only does Michelle’s OT background perfectly align with the missions of the organization, but she has also led Goodwill from an old, tired thrift business to a place of prosperity and community by using her functional planning and entrepreneurial skills. In the time Michelle has been with Goodwill, revenue has increased to $27 million and the number of employees have grown from 160 to 650 – many facing barriers such as disability and social disadvantage.
Michelle’s passion for her role stems from seeing clients’ lives transform through the power of work. Michelle’s clients are her inspiration, as she is able to witness individuals who began with little self-worth, minimal education, and limited social opportunity become productive citizens and leaders in their own right. Michelle plans to continue to help facilitate this transformation for individuals beyond Southwestern Ontario. She is now leading the charge to expand Goodwill into Toronto, and will strive to create over 900 jobs within the next 5 years.
We are so privileged to have such an accomplished woman as an alumni of our Department. She is a motivating force to all, and has helped transform the lives of many individuals. We can only wait to see what amazing things she will inspire in the future!